Tysilio (also known as Church Island) is a small island in the Menai Strait on the shores of Anglesey, attached by a short causeway that is reachable only on foot off the Belgian Promenade. The whole 2.7 acres (11,000 m2) of the island is taken up with St Tysilio's Church, (constructed in the 15th century) and its churchyard. The 20th century poet Sir Cynan (Albert) Evans-Jones is buried in the churchyard:

Pan fwyf yn hen a pharchus   When I am old and reverend
Ac arian yn fy nghod,    With money to my name,
A phob beirniadaeth drosodd   With all my judgments over
A phawb yn canu 'nghlod   Yet basking in my fame:
Mi brynaf fwthyn unig   I'll buy a lonely cottage
Heb ddim o flaen y ddôr.   With nothing 'fore its door,
Ond creigiau Aberdaron   But the rocks of Aberdaron
A thonnau Gwyllt y Môr   And the ocean's maddened roar.

 Translated by Robin ap Cynan

On top of the highest point of the small island is a memorial to the local men who died during the two World Wars. This is also the best place on the island from which to view the Menai Strait and the two bridges that cross it.

In 2002, little egrets bred in Wales for the first time on a small islet just off Church Island.

The Welsh name for the island is Ynys Tysilio, meaning the Island of Tysilio. Tysilio was a sixth century Welsh saint and it is widely believed that he established a church on the island, however no record or evidence of this church has been found.

It is known that the present church on the island dates back to the 1400s. It is not known who built the church and why. It is however widely accepted that the church did replace an early church or chapel on the same site. The church on the island is small and has no electricity, yet despite this services are still held in the church and it is very popular for weddings. One unusual but attractive feature is the main door. The opening in the wall is rectangular, with a fitting door, but a massive oak frame with a round arched top has been fitted around the door.

Prince Tyslio (or Sulio) was the second son of Brochfael Ysgythrog of the Tusks. He fled his father's court at an early age to throw himself on the mercy of Abbot Gwyddfarch of Caer-Meguaidd (Meifod) and beg to become a monk. A Powysian warband was sent to retrieve him, but King Brochfael was eventually persuaded that his son should be allowed to stay. Fearful of further trouble from his family, Tysilio set up his base at a hermitage on the island and became a great evangeliser on Anglesey.

Tysilio forms part of the name of the neighbouring world famous village Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, paying its respect to the church based on the island, translated as St Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio of the red cave.


Image credits (clockwise from top):

Llanfair Hall

Llanfair Hall

Llanfair Hall

Llanfair Hall